HC Deb 06 June 1945 vol 411 cc864-5
23. Sir Thomas Cook

asked the Secretary of State for Air how many acres of former agricultural land in Norfolk are at present being used for aerodromes; and when he proposes to release part of this area for farming.

Mr. H. Macmillan

The answer to the first part of the Question is, approximately, 24,400 acres, of which nearly 5,000 were in use as airfields before the war. Approximately 1,450, acres are at present let to farmers. With regard to the second part of the question I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given by my predecessor to the hon. Member for Maldon (Mr. Driberg) on 28th February last. Meanwhile, there should soon be substantial increases in the acreage let for agriculture from these airfields.

Mr. Driberg

How soon can we expect a statement from the right hon. Gentleman's Department about the future use of this kind of land?

Mr. Macmillan

The hon. Gentleman will recognise that it requires very careful consideration of the whole defence and strategic position of the future, and he would hardly expect me to make that investigation at the present time.

Hon. Members

Why not?

Sir Geoffrey Shakespeare

Will the right hon. Gentleman remember that there are thousands of families homeless in Norwich, and that there is aerodrome accommodation available in the vicinity of Norwich?

Mr. Macmillan

Yes, Sir. We will make every possible effort to make every alleviation consistent with strategic needs.

Sir Oliver Simmonds

Will the right hon. Gentleman see that his officers at these various aerodromes discuss this matter with individual farmers, so that in cases where the complete aerodrome cannot be passed back, yet those parts which could be released can be handed back for agricultural purposes?

Mr. Macmillan

That is being done. That is the increased land released for agricultural purposes.

Mr. Driberg

Has the Minister started his careful examination of the defence and strategic considerations involved?

Mr. Macmillan

These matters are, of course, under consideration by the post-war planning authorities of the Service Departments.